Pochettino demands consistency after 'nearly perfect' Spurs win vs. Man City
LONDON - Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino described the 2-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday as "nearly perfect" and challenged his players to maintain that level for the rest of the season.
City arrived at White Hart Lane with a 100 percent record from their six league matches under Pep Guardiola, but were unable to cope with the home side's relentless pressing and quick passing.
Aleksandar Kolarov bundled Danny Rose's cross into his own net before Dele Alli finished from Son Heung-Min's pass to give Spurs a 2-0 half-time lead.
It could have got worse for City after the break, but Erik Lamela's penalty was saved by Claudio Bravo after Alli was tripped.
"The performance was nearly perfect. To play a great team like Manchester City, you need to do a fantastic job. For that, I'm very proud of our players; work," Pochettino said afterwards.
"Today, collectively, we worked very hard -- all the players were fantastic. It was a real exciting game. Both teams played in an exciting way. We share a similar philosophy.
"I enjoyed it a lot, the fans enjoyed a lot, the neutral people enjoyed it too -- both teams' mentality was to go forward, play football, and try to win the game.
"We are a team that always wants control. In front was Manchester City, who want the same as us. Then it's a battle on the pitch. For that I feel very pleased, our players showed big commitment to our philosophy."
Pochettino had accused his players of lacking "passion" after the 2-1 Champions League defeat to Monaco last month, but had no complaints about their commitment on Sunday and urged them to maintain that standard.
"That is our challenge," he said. "I told you after Monaco that I was very disappointed -- not by the performance but with the lack of passion. Today, I talked about that before and said: 'You can win or lose but don't regret anything, or anything you show on the pitch.'
"That is the attitude we need to keep. It's too early to talk about aims, but it's important to be consistent. If we can play like this, why not be consistent for the whole season? I know it's a big effort but that is the way we want to work and play.
"Today was a good example that we want to follow to build our project."
Lamela wrestled the ball off Son to take the penalty after Alli had been tripped by Fernandinho but Bravo saved the Argentine's tame effort.
Pochettino comforted Lamela immediately afterwards and he said he was relaxed about which player takes Tottenham's spot-kicks.
"Lamela, Sonny, [Christian] Eriksen ... at the moment, it's who feels better to shoot. Two players wanted to shoot. That's always better than nobody wanting the ball. They decided to be brave," he said.
"Maybe the next one if Son is on, and Lamela too, maybe he says: 'Now you give me the ball.' The only one who shoots can miss the penalty. If Sonny missed, not Lamela, we talk in the same way. There's no issue."
Pochettino confirmed that Danny Rose would be fine for England duty after taking a knock in the second half and said the forthcoming international break had arrived at a good time for Spurs.
"We're happy we have time to recover players like [Mousa] Dembele and Kane. We need all to compete," he said. "We have a lot of games ahead. October and November are tough to compete. We need everyone, so now it's good to rest."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.